Over four years ago I blogged about making felt seats. These items are lightweight and portable and thus ideal for many outdoor activities on the go. I’ve continued to experiment with them. My first attempts were rough and I learned a lot through trial and error. The above photo is my latest effort and I think the process I’m using is improving.
Firstly rather than making one big felt seat, I begin the process using the ziplock bag approach. This is easier on the hands and arms and quicker work. You need a piece of bubble wrap too, cut to fit inside the bag.
Next, I cut white merino wool tops and laid them out so that all the strands of wool run the same way. I overlap the wool tops so that they felt together to make the mat. The white base layer is really helpful for two reasons. First white wool is cheaper than dyed wool. Second it means I can see whether the colour covers it all in subsequent layers.
Next I add one layer of colour, with the wool strands going vertical. After this I add a mixture of hot water and real soap, not detergent. In the past I don’t think I had the water hot enough. I now add water that is hot to touch rather than warm. It seems to help.
Then I do a very light touch felt. I roll the bag up, squeeze the felt four times in different directions so that the wool fibres just begins to bond together but no more. I made four squares as illustrated below:
The next stage was to felt these squares together. I flipped them over so that they were on their white base with all the white wool fibres running vertically. Then I added layers of horizontal colour. I dampened them down in place with hot water and soap and a little bit of rubbing.
Then I flipped the large mat over and added more strands of wool to seal the joins between the pieces. Also I tried to fill add more wool strands to any white gaps that could be seen.
I then went through the process described in the original post. Again, I kept the water hotter than before and added more water than originally advised. I made an effort to keep the edges tidy and between each bit of kneading and rolling I opened up the bubble wrap to inspect and make adjustments. Then I washed the mat and left it to dry outside.
My seat definitely was more robust, felted and tidy compared to previous attempts and beginning the process in a zip locked bag seemed to make a big difference. Making a large seat has been much more manageable. The first photo shows the joins which have definitely been worked nicely into the felting.
The one down side of using merino wool tops is the cost. Felted seats do use a lot of wool. I reckon the above cost me £5 to make which is a lot compared to bubble wrap seats. Also with primary aged children, there will be errors made, so it is an expensive project. My next challenge is to use heritage breed fleeces which I’ve sourced via my family so that these are free.